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Category Archives: Faith

You’ve been prayed for

It’s 4:00a.m. and I woke up only to not be able to go back to sleep… I felt compelled to take this time to pray for you. That’s right, you, the one reading this. Whether you are a Facebook friend or a reading this from my blog, or both, I hope you find comfort knowing that no matter what you are going through -financial issues, relationship problems, running from God, physical, emotional or mental pain, or something completely different- I may not know what’s going on but God does and he loves you. You’ve been prayed for!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Faith

 

We Can Always Use a Friendly Reminder… Speaking for Myself and Maybe You, Too

Often in the morning when I am reading (a.k.a. quiet time), I will run across something that really stands out to me.  Sometimes it is a Bible verse or sometimes it is a quote from a devotional that I read….wherever it comes from, I want to remember it.  So, when one stands out to me I usually try (key word-try) to document the author and date found. I usually write them on Post-it notes and place them on a bookshelf that hides my desk which allows me to see them daily.  Many times I don’t think about them being there, but today was one of those days that I felt compelled to look them over. As I was scanning the collage of sticky notes, I noticed a theme that I hadn’t before and thought it to be interesting having just followed an election….. particularly an election that seems to have divided so many…

As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of nor do I talk about politics except on rare occasion… just ask my family.  I don’t believe that there is a single person, party or platform that can truly bring our nation together… there are just too many who won’t let things go… both sides. But I do believe that the reasoning for holding on to it is because there is a conviction and passion from those who believe their ideology is the correct one and hold on tight to where they stand  … on both sides ….  and that tends to bring division.

So, what you need to know about me and politics is that I do my homework, I believe what I believe, I pray, I vote, I’ll listen to you but I most likely will not talk to you(meaning anyone)about it.  With that said, I’m posting some photos that were reminders to me this morning…. and both sides whether liberal or conservative…..Donkey or Elephant……Democrat or Republican… Pleased or Displeased….and anyone who is a follower of Christ…..maybe in our words and actions these can be a reminder for us all….. Oh, and excuse my sloppy handwriting…

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Days 4-30 of November Thankfulness: All at Once I Realized….

Okay, I realized that if I don’t do the rest at one time then I probably won’t finish it so I’m just jumping ahead…. Here are the rest of the 30 things I’m thankful for in no particular order….

Just a part of my job

4. My job– On any given weekend I come home with great stories from the kids that I work with… whether it is a funny story (like the kid who asked if he could say bad words and when I said no, he said to his friend, “@#$%, we can’t say bad words.” or the sweet little girl who insists we call her “Dog”) or a sweet one (the kid who requires a hug from the other party of the dispute after the apology), I always have something great to share.  Plus, because of what I do… I pretty much much get to be a kid…  I love it.

5. My co-workers– I realize that not too many people can say that they love everyone that they work with … and if they say they love them, they may not like them so much…. But I love and like my co-workers.  They are a great group of people who put up with me and love and like me back… at least, I’m pretty sure they do… I also know, not too many have co-workers that feel like family…. I do and am thankful.. (If you see my boss make sure you tell him I said these nice things)

6. My husband– Another one who puts up with me… So few get to see the funny side of him but the man cracks me up… plus he is a great dad and husband. ( You can also tell him I said these nice things. )

7. My freedom– I will be voting tomorrow and realize that for whatever reason, I have been fortunate enough to be born and live in a country that is free.

8. My kids– My girls are such a perfect addition to my life.  They are all funny, compassionate, sweet (most of the time… well, okay… sweet to others), they love each other now and someday may become friends with each other (actually, I see it happening already) They aren’t perfect by any means but then again, they have an imperfect mom so what do I expect.

9. Our alphabet– abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz…. there may be a lot of them but thankful there are no ~ or ` or other symbols over the tops of them….plus, I like to write and am glad I don’t have to write in pictures..

10. Flip-Flops– I love the idea of slipping on a pair of flip-flops and letting my feet feel the sun… yeah, leather, canvas and other shoes are great too, but flip-flops are the next best thing to bare feet...

11. Hummingbirds– Our summer is made better by these little guys… They zoom past our heads, flutter around our back porch and though we may sound easy to entertain, they are more fun to watch than most shows on TV.

12. Friends– some to laugh with, some to cry with, some to do both with, some male, some female, some who brighten my day unexpectedly, some who mentor me, some who we learn together…. some who have passed in and out of my life……….all have a special place in my heart

13. My health–  thankful that I can walk, talk, and do most anything I want to do because I have good health

14. Ale8– The Central Kentucky soft drink that has made it’s way to a few other places in the country…. I’m pretty sure it is an acquired taste, but for those of us who love it … we really love it.  And I’m thankful that they now have Diet and caffeine free, too.

15. Baby Animals– They are just so cute…  puppies, kittens, baby rabbits, baby bears, etc… well, except baby narwhals

16. Creativity-I’m a person who loves to create…. whether it be a story, a painting or a sculpted caricature of someone….It is what I love to do… I’m thankful for a creative Creator and amazed at what He createdLightening outside our house

17. Nature– Waterfalls, the change of seasons, stars, storms, lightening, weird animals (narwhals, angler fish, tarsiers,etc)… whatever it may be it all goes back to the creativity….

18. Technology – I’m thankful to live in a day and age where people thousands and thousands of miles away can communicate as if they were next door neighbors.  I also love that we can get to them by plane, train or car rather than only a horse or on foot.

19. Chocolate – ‘Nuff said…

20. Modern Medicine –  I can imagine that without what we have today, I probably would have been one on the side of the road in need of healing when Christ walked by…. AND – can you imagine surgery without antibacterial items??   that’s what I’m talking about

21. The Bible – I used to never understand it nor care much about the stories from it, but once I began to dig into it with the help of Christ, it changed my world….

22. Music – It can perk up your day, help you worship God, mellow out a crying baby, make memories, sooth a tortured soul, help motivate, help memorize… It is a pretty powerful thing.

23. Grace– I know I’ve already written about it but I’m just doubly thankful that I don’t get what I deserve…. because I can never do enough to get the good portion of deserving all by myself….

24. Fruit-something good for you and tastes good too…. bananas, apples (fuji are my favorite), grapes, kiwi, raisins, watermelon, actually all melons, strawberries, cherries, clementines ….. add a little chocolate to some and then it’s even better…. shall I go on?

25. Humor -sense of humor- glad I have one, even if I am the only one who thinks I’m funny… and laughter,  not at the expense of others but wholesome laughter could possibly bring the world together

26. Bug sprayCitronella, flea and tick repellent, after bite….. whichever it is, it was a genius invention

27. Gloves– They keep my hands warm. (particularly on days when my office is Freezing) I can even text in them now and best of all,  I don’t have to touch things that are yucky if I don’t want….

28. My family-my parents, by example taught me how to work through arguments, dance, laugh, love each other, give to others and love God and church….I have no siblings but do have cousins, aunts and uncles… brothers and sisters-in-law, father and mother-in-law (deceased- but wonderfully remembered), a wonderful step mother-in-law…. so many great memories

29. My home– Yes, there are times when I wish I had a bigger yard or one more bedroom or a live in maid, but I am blessed to have what I have and know it

30. A Loving God– anyone who makes a way for you to get to them must love you a lot…. thankful that the Creator of all did that for me…. and for you…. so when I am thankful, that is who gets my thanks… without the Creator and his grace, all of the other things are pointless.

If only November had more days…….. Maybe I should just be thankful all of the time….

Ephesians 5:20

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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Day 3 of November Thankfulness: Grace….In A Textfully Speaking Kind of Way

Several years ago right around Christmas time,  I had a very interesting cell phone bill.  Texting had just caught on in our household and we had allowed our daughter the privilege of going from a pay as you go phone to being on a fixed monthly plan along with the adults in the house.   Believe it or not, I’m a texter more than a talker now, but this incident was during the early stages of texting in our household.   My daughter was becoming quite fast with her texting and her communication with friends now became conversations with no purpose….

Messages such as this:

Daughter:  Wut r u doing

Friend: texting

Daughter:  Oh Haha

Daughter: me too

Friend: Have you seen that movie that they were talking about at lunch?

Daughter:  No, but want to this weekend?

Friend: Yes!

Daughter: Me too!

Friend: K

Daughter: K

Daughter: 🙂

Daughter: See ya tomorrow and we’ll make plans

Friend:  ttyl

At that time we had a limited texting plan and overage was a quarter a text.   Now, she thought that a whole conversation such as that would cost a quarter, when in reality it cost $3.25. So now multiply that by some 2500 texts over our limit and you have a phone bill that is not only unbelievably outrageous, but also as thick as a book!  And that was what we had.. our bill…$600+ with another one on the way for over $300 AND it was nearing Christmas… Needless to say, our phone carrier received a nicer gift than our family did that year.

Anyway, several asked me if we punished our daughter only to be shocked that we didn’t.  We disciplined but not punished….  We paid the phone bill and she had to work to earn the money for her upcoming mission trip of the same cost.  She earned her money,  learned her lesson, became aware of how money really works and grew in wisdom throughout it all.  This is the part of the story when we get the most blank stares and then we get the “what I would have done” scenarios which almost always include taking the phone away.

Maybe we should have taken the phone away but instead chose not to “punish” because it wasn’t a defiant act, it was accidental.  I guess to some degree, we showed her grace.

I was talking with a friend the other day and the topic of grace came up in our conversation… God’s grace is an amazing thing.  My friend reminded me that the Greek meaning of grace is a translation of “a superior stooping, bending or reaching down in kindness to an inferior.”  In a word picture of that, you can imagine that God bends down, looks you in the eye and hugs and holds you just like a child…grace.  Wow, God’s grace is a choice and it is more than just grace in certain circumstances… but rather, grace in all things.

I’ve messed up so many times, even when I knew better…. even when I knew completely what I was doing was against what God would desire from me…. Even if He had reminded me over and over again of what I should NOT do… His grace doesn’t give me what I deserve.  Whew!  What a gift.

When my husband and I chose grace for our daughter, we not only did it because we love her and we knew she didn’t do it intentionally, but we also did it because we have experienced grace ourselves…. we passed it on in hopes she would and will too.

Today, I am thankful for grace-  the Grace of God and the grace that I see exemplified by others.

John 1:15-17 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Day 1 of November Thankfulness-Don’t Box Me In

There used to be a skit on Saturday Night Live about a couple named Doug and Wendy Whiner.  The skit was based around this couple who spoke in a whiny voice all of the time.  I can remember traveling in Panama as a teenager and while doing a little sightseeing, my friend and I began saying things in our Doug and Wendy Whiner voices.  Looking back, we cracked ourselves up but were probably annoying everyone else.

So, now it is time for me to divulge a truth……I’m often like Doug and Wendy.  I whine. I suppose the reality of it is that I’m a pretty thankful person.  I realize that I have been blessed with a great husband, great kids (even if they do roll their eyes at me at times) and a great family.  I love my job and my co-workers. I have some precious friends. My kids never have to go without needs. (I am stressing needs… wants are a totally different thing.) I’m thankful to God  for all of these things and so much more.  BUT…. I’m also still a whiner.  Not so much of one out loud and to people (okay, maybe a few get to hear me) but in the quietness of my life, wherever that may be, I whine to God about what I don’t have or what I don’t want.

Last spring, I took a day long personal retreat.  It wasn’t much of anything other than a hike all by myself to a rock that overlooks a river.  I took my walking stick, a backpack, some music on my phone and my Bible.  The intention of the retreat was to spend my time with God….. whining.  I had been dealing with a perpetual thorn in my side… as much as I have done and as hard as I have tried, I couldn’t (still can’t) get that thing out of my side.  So, my retreat time was going to be me and God…. I totally had planned on him showing up at that rock with me.  I sat down, prayed some, opened my Bible, read some….. nothing.  No God.  I did those things again.  Still, no God.  For whatever reason, though I know I am always in his presence, he chose to be quiet.  And my reaction… I was disappointed…. I wanted to complain about this thorn in my side… I wanted answers….. It was a great day for it to be removed! Still nothing but silence.

I basked on the rock for several hours, reading, waiting….. I was at the point of putting God in a box and of believing that He was also annoyed with my whining, so I finally gave up and decided to leave.  Now being a girl that grew up on a farm, with a tad of hippie inside and lack of desire to be like others, I decided a hike without shoes would be great….  I put my shoes in my backpack and began hiking through mud, rocks and grass… It was wonderful.  The smells of fresh mud and grass, the feel of walking on gravel and squishing through mud, the sounds of a running creek and singing birds… I was instantly taken back to my childhood.

I made it through the rough terrain and back to a concrete sidewalk and was watching a group of kids in the distance when I looked down and caught myself in mid-step.  I almost stepped on the biggest thorn I’d ever seen in my life.  It was huge… at least to me it was.  It was probably three inches long and the thorns on the side were sticking a good two inches outward.  It looked much like a cross.  I thought in my mind that thorn would be great to show the kids at church because it was probably the size of the thorns placed on Jesus’ head.  I looked around to find more but there were none.  The only ones I saw were about 40 feet in the air, wrapped around a large tree.  So, I picked it up and decided since God wasn’t meeting me that I would listen to some music.
I put in my ear buds and without looking, clicked on my music.  A song began to play and as I sat down in my car, I heard the words in a whole new way….

The song was, Don’t Give Up by Shawn McDonald…. These are the words that I heard….

Sometimes it is hard to go on
It’s hard to see the reasons
For breathing, living, letting love guide the way
But you must hold on

 
Don’t give up
Don’t give up
Hold on for one more day

 

Sometimes we fall down
We get ourselves in trouble
But it’s OK
Cause we still have another chance to get it right
To get it right

 

I’ve come too far
I’ve seen so much
I’ve heard the call and felt the touch
I’ve tasted love that I cannot deny

 
Don’t give up
Don’t give up
Hold on for one more day

 
I remembered the words that had been spoken to me just days before, ” Maybe the thorn in your side is to keep you relying on God.  If you didn’t have it would you depend on God as much as you have to with it? Maybe not” … I looked at the thorn… it was a souvenir…God waited until I was like a child and spoke to me in a way that was creative and miraculous….. I wept…

I’ve kept that thorn. It sits on my desk as a reminder of that day.   I still don’t like the thorn in my side and it still bothers me a lot, but at least I have an understanding and that understanding came in such a loving and beautiful way.

 

 

Day 1: I’m thankful for a God that cannot be put in a box, desires a personal relationship with me (and you) and speaks in beautiful ways.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NLT)

even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young-

Grow strong in the Light of My Presence. Your weakness does not repel Me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the Light of My Love fill you.

A yielded heart does not whine or rebel when the going gets rough. It musters the courage to thank Me even during hard times. Yielding yourself to My will is ultimately an act of trust. In quietness and trust is your strength.

 

Don’t Give Up- Shawn McDonald

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Running Naked…. BUT With Clothes on AND a Target on My Back

A few weeks ago, I was unable to sleep one night and as I lay there at 4:30 a.m., I decided that in thirty minutes I was going to turn on my “Couch to 5K” app and head out the door.  I was going to be a runner.  It would be a new everyday routine .  I would run at 5:00 a.m., experience no embarrassment (no one would see me), be back to the house before anyone was awake and in the darkness of the early morning become a seasoned runner that could eventually show herself in daylight with no shame.  I had it all planned out.    But then I started thinking, “what if others are out running at that time too” and I remembered that I probably didn’t have great running shoes or clothes to run in, so when 5:00 a.m. rolled around, I decided to skip it and go buy some running apparel later that day.

However, I  later saw something that threw my excuses right out the window…. It was a man, who was obviously not running from anyone, but instead was running for pleasure, and on his feet were not fancy running shoes…. actually, no running shoes at all.  He was running in flip-flops.

Well,  to know me, you know that I love flip-flops… I wear them everywhere, even hiking.  So, I actually became inspired and went home and googled  “flip-flop running”…. not only did articles come up about running in flip-flops but there were articles about running barefoot.  Now, to really know me is to know that barefoot is the way I’d prefer to be pretty much at all times, so barefoot running was very intriguing to me… but before I can run barefoot I need to study up on it.

Okay, who am I kidding… deep down inside I want to be a runner but the reality of it all is that I have enough excuses to hold me off until, well, until I have no desire to run.   I once told my co-workers, which became a running(excuse the pun) joke for years,  “The only way you’ll ever see me run is by placing a target on my back with a gun in your hand”.  I definitely have to be motivated to run. (A 5K with zombies chasing me might work… keyword: might).

Recently, when brainstorming with a friend about ideas for teaching Hebrews 12:1 (vs 1b-And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.), I was reminded of my whole running desire, barefoot running and having a target on my back.    I realized that sometimes I don’t want to “run”, much more, run with endurance… (this time I’m talking about spiritually running). Just like physical running, sometimes I need a reason to run, a reason to “get going”,  something to get me motivated or just to stop being lazy about my faith….. So what can possibly create that motivation?  A target on my back, of course.  A target that the enemy wants to hit.

Now, with a target on my back, not only do I have to run with endurance, but I have to focus on my run… where the path is taking me and where I need to go in order to dodge that bullet, or maybe even a missile, that is headed for me.   The first portion of Hebrews 12:1 says “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up”  So now, I also need to release some things so I can run faster and dodge easier…. pretty much metaphorically get naked.

So, now I have a target on my back but I’ve thrown off everything that could weigh me down….you would think that now being “lighter” and having a clean, pure, faith-filled life, the target would be gone, the path easier and I could slow down. However instead, by throwing off everything, I just exposed the target and now it stands out more than ever.   Making my target more available and feeling exposed and vulnerable……I’m not so sure that this sounds like something I would want to do. It sounds more like something I would lie in bed and make excuses to get out of.  Why give up what is comfortable only to make myself a running target?   Hold on… Good news is coming…

If you keep reading in Hebrews, it says that by keeping our eyes on Christ we can do it. Why? Because if I have a target on my back, I want to make sure I know every place to run so I don’t get stuck in some dark dead end somewhere…. Also, keeping focused on Christ will give me the opportunity to see what he sees and behave how he does.  After all, he is God so he’s got it all figured out. Not enough reason to expose your target? Hang in there….there’s even more….and its my favorite.

A few weeks ago, I taught the kids about the armor of God…. And one very cool thing that I love to remember and also to remind others of is when looking at the armor of God, our head (helmet),  our heart (breastplate) our vital organs (belt), our feet (boots), anything coming our way (sword and shield)…. I am protected.  However, there is one piece missing…. There is still one exposed important part of the body that this armor doesn’t cover… MY BACK.  The place where that exposed target is…. BUT…. here is the best part ever… Christ has my back.  The target may still be there but by keeping my eyes focused on Christ, I stay on the path of protection and hope.  He’s not going to allow me to be hit….That doesn’t mean the enemy won’t attempt to strike…. It just means that I’ve got protection,  hope and excitement to get to the finish line.

Running naked with my clothes on, a focus and a protector ….. that’s a race that I can run.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Ephesians 6:13-18

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Devotions, Faith

 

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A Masterpiece

“Aslan”

I read this morning about being God’s masterpiece…. That is a huge thing to consider.  I’ll admit that probably more days than not, I don’t feel or look much like a masterpiece.   When I think of a masterpiece I think of something great like the Sistine Chapel or “The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans” by Degas. (Okay, I totally looked that one up), but maybe you understand where I’m coming from.  I have in my mind that masterpiece is defined as something great but completed… done…. no additions, no subtractions…. just perfecto.  No more touch ups by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling because it was perfect. Then others see it and ooh and aah about it’s greatness and it becomes something distinguished, something of value, something that others love or at least pretend to love because it is a “masterpiece”.    Now, that’s how I picture a masterpiece.

When I read that, not feeling much like a masterpiece, I began thinking about what that meant. If I’m God’s masterpiece, what does that say about me really?  Am I complete? I hope not.  Am I distinguished? Not really.  Do I need additions or subtractions in my life? Yep! (and my family and co-workers say a big “Amen”) Well then, if I am going by my definition then there is no way I am a masterpiece.  So, feeling a little uneasy, I looked up the definition and I was surprised to find out that masterpiece is not defined by what others think nor about it being complete or perfect… Though many of the sources varied in a small way, most defined the word masterpiece as an outstanding work of art.  So that raised another question…. outstanding to whom? Who decides if it is a masterpiece or a piece of junk?  Hmmm, more to ponder…..

“In Memory Of Andy”

I have toyed with art for years and recently found that my Ipad is a great canvas. I have an app that is helpful for the mental block that storms in when I ask myself, “Okay, what should I draw?” It gives daily challenges and competitions that spark that idea machine to turn it’s wheels….   So, because of those little idea boosters, I have created some artwork that I would have probably never drawn otherwise…. like a caricature of a celebrity, someone “caught” or a 4th of July firework….. Though there is one thing that I’ve noticed in all of the challenges and competitions.  I won’t or don’t enter my art into a either one if I am not satisfied with it.  I have to feel that it is good enough…. my best….. my own personal masterpiece of sorts.

However, as are most, I am my worst critic.  Once I’ve submitted my art, I find a dozen or hundreds or even more changes that I could have made to improve it…. It is my masterpiece but yet, I’m not truly finished with it and because of my eyes, as the creator of it, I probably never will be finished with it.  There will always be something to change.  And though I don’t know the story of Michelangelo’s painting, I wonder if he stood back while others “oohed” and “aahed” about his work and thought, “I should have added a bit more color to the clouds.”   Possibly, however, would he have said, “Okay, I’m done”, if he wasn’t pleased or satisfied or even proud of his work… his creation? I’m thinking a strong no possibility…

Tiger Lily

So, I drew a lion that was featured by the app creator and I also created a baby dragon that I really liked but didn’t receive the accolades that the lion did.  Both, to me, the artist, are each ones that I really like yet they are totally different. I can’t compare them because they are just not the same.  Though one took hours and hours to complete and the other took less than an hour, they both can use some touch ups here and there….  but I was satisfied with them both and still am.

So, if through Christ, I am God’s masterpiece, as the artist, he doesn’t have to keep me the way I am.  He can always make changes (or create in me desire to change) to help perfect me and still be totally pleased with who he has created….

I definitely needed that reminder today….. maybe you need it too….  You are his masterpiece…. his handiwork…. each of us different, each of us valued to the Artist…. and the Artist doesn’t care nor place our value by what others think….

What a great thing to soak in….

Ephesians 2:10

New Living Translation (NLT)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The artwork in this post is all original and created on my Ipad.  🙂

“Baby Dragon”

Feather Challenge

“Caught!”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Celebrate the Season- Advent Daily Chocolate Day 1: Love is Blind

When I was a kid I used to look so forward to December 1st.  That was when I could open the very first window in my Advent Calendar, look and see what the chocolate design was… you know, an angel, a Wiseman, a shepherd, etc…. and then eat it up.  The main problem though was that by December 2nd, the only thing left behind in those little windows was a hollowed out shell and  the smell of the chocolate …. Yep, I had no self control and I counted down to Christmas in one day.  What do you expect?  The pieces of chocolate were wafer thin and the windows weren’t locked… it was like a chocolate free for all.

Well, now I’m all grown up and have self control ……. And I also have a job so I can buy an extra calendar or two just in case ….. but, this isn’t about chocolate calendars….it’s not about self-control…..  It is about the Advent Season and the excitement that the countdown brings.

I’ve found myself many times when I’m reading during my quiet time, wanting to read more and then a bit more and even more …. pretty much like the chocolate of my childhood, I don’t want to stop until I’m satisfied.  So to add to my regular Bible reading plan,  I’m opening an Advent reading window a day (while eating a piece of chocolate, of course).  I’m doing this so I can share the “chocolate” that is satisfying to me and hopefully to others to.

So grab your chocolate …. the real stuff.. or not….. and hold me accountable to sharing with you a devotion, insight or story a day until Christmas.  Hopefully,  you’ll enjoy it as much as I will.

So, we’ll begin here in Isaiah…. Isaiah 11:1-5 to be exact

Isaiah is prophesying- He’s telling about a person (Jesus), a descendant of David, who is going to have some pretty obvious qualities about himself…. Godly wisdom, Godly Counsel, Godly Understanding…Just these three alone are enough to make you think He would be the one to follow, but as you move on down into the scripture there is something that I read that makes the whole appreciating Jesus thing even more precious.

It talks about his quality of blindness in Christ… not literal blindness, but instead, it is the ability to look at someone and not see them as others do and not judge them because of the way that they appear.  He judges the heart (That is why the Pharisees stayed so angry at him all of the time) .  In other words, he doesn’t love us just because we are attractive, or physically fit, or big givers of our money, are financially sound, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir or any other deed.   He loves us because we are his creation… made in his image..    That’s an incredible hope for a society who lives in a shadow of Hollywood images and lifestyles … It is also incredible hope for those haunted by their past.

We also find out He also judges by what he knows and sees … not rumor…He waits to know our hearts and doesn’t allow the opinion of another to persuade his thoughts about us.   More hope for those plagued with a history of poor choices or a past (or even present) that has brought about conversations from others.

When Isaiah was prophesying about this Messiah, he painted a picture of a fair and loving Christ that we fortunately now have an opportunity to know…. personally.

Have you pushed Christ aside because of a sin, a past, a hate, a bitterness or just an esteem that feels undeserving?  Look at how he see us… it’s different than what we are used to …. allow him to show you that love.

What about those who have experienced his love… How is your love? Is your love blind toward others?  Is it based on what you feel is attractive or not so attractive (appearances, financial status, hygiene, rumors, lifestyle, political positions)?  Today is a great day to practice blind love… to try to see the heart of a person rather than what the world sees.

So, I’m off to buy more chocolate…. I love this time of year!

Isaiah 11:1-5

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot—
      yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
      the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and might,
      the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 3 He will delight in obeying the Lord.
      He will not judge by appearance
      nor make a decision based on hearsay.
 4 He will give justice to the poor
      and make fair decisions for the exploited.
   The earth will shake at the force of his word,
      and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
      and truth like an undergarment.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Conversations… The Epiphany Factor

I’m not sure if it is my age, my stress level or just the way I’m wired, but I’ve taken notice of something lately that shoots my conversations to a whole new level.  One might call it the lack of common sense, but I just call it the “epiphany factor” which is triggered by the “oh” gene.  You know what I’m talking about; a time during a conversation, when you begin to see things differently or when someone explains something to you and you finally “get it” ….even if it is a conversation of useless knowledge or trivial chat… that moment is the “epiphany factor”.   You tend to see them on sitcoms quite a bit, but at our house in 2011, I have been keeping notes of them for a time such as this.

As far as the reasoning for why these conversations are happening and since I seem to be claiming this “oh” gene (which, by the way, lies dormant in my parents), I’m beginning to believe that I’m wired that way.  I’m not just thinking this because my husband has been trying to tell me this for years, but because I am seeing it in my children more and more and that helps establish the theory that it may just be a wiring issue with me… yep, born that way.

Here are a few of many examples of what I mean…. these conversations include my 16-year-old (Allison), my 18-year-old (Catie) sometimes my 9-year-old, my husband (Chris) and me….

Allison:  So are Vera Bradley and Vera Wang related?
Me:  How does that even make sense? They just have the same first name.
Allison:  I know… Are they related?
Me:  ?? (silence)
Catie:  So, are they related?
Chris:  Yes girls, they are sisters!
Allison and Catie:  Oh…

OR

Conversation in the car in the dark:
Allison: Mom, are my contacts in?
Me: Allison, how on earth am I supposed to know?
Allison: What?? I thought you said the eye place called you and said they were in.
Me: (short pause) Ohhh, I thought you meant in your eyes.
Chris: Oh, brother

OR

Conversation in the car-
Allison:(who was sitting behind me) Mom, I just sent you a picture.
Me: Okay, text or email?
Allison: Text. Did you get it?
Me: No
Allison: Now?
Me: No
Allison: I sent it. Now did you get it?
Me: No, Allison.
A few minutes later…

Allison: Did you get it, mom?
Me: No

After a few more minutes of the same dialogue….
Chris: Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to just hand your phone to mom and let her see the picture?
Me and Allison: Oh…

OR

Conversation after taking photos of my daughter who was climbing out of a tree….
Allison: Mom, help me
Me:  You’ve got it… Come on down
Allison:  I’m scared. I’m afraid I’m going to break something.
Me:  You’re not going to break anything. This tree is strong and sturdy …. You couldn’t break it even if you wanted to
Allison:  I’m talking about me, Mom! I’m afraid I’ll break my arm or leg!
Me: oh…

AND

Regarding a glitch in our van’s brake lights, to stop concern about the battery dying, Chris and I decided to trade cars for the day. Our phone call:
Chris: Hey, I’m not going to trade cars now. I put a band aid on it so it is temporarily fixed… at least until I can get home tonight.
Me: Wow, that is hilarious
Chris: What is?
Me: That is so funny, kind of ironic, that you used a band-aid to fix it.
Chris:(with laughter) I didn’t use a real band-aid. It was a figure of speech
Me: Oh….

This genetic flaw seems to have been passed down to my poor children and unfortunately, the “voice of reason” gene that their father so perfectly owns, lies dormant or at least will be a late blooming gene.    I hope they are late bloomers because I will have to say that the wisdom of the “Oh” gene is about a 1 on a scale 1-10 while the “voice of reason” ranks way up there with a 9.9-10…. It just comes in so handy… and it has saved our family embarrassment over and over.  (Well, not counting that I’ve just now posted our conversations for the world to read.)

But you know, so often my conversations with God are also laced with the Epiphany Factor.  Common sense can’t always play a role in conversations with God because he is so much bigger than that, but I do tend to forget so much when I talk to him.  I forget to be quiet.  I forget to get rid of barriers between us.  I forget that when he makes a promise he keeps it.  I forget that he loves me., etc.  Many times God has to jump in and, either through his word or his people, stop me and be a voice of reason.

In the Book of Job, Elihu, to a certain degree, was like that; the voice of reason.  After listening to Job and his friends, Elihu spoke some things that he felt needed to be said.  Job was wondering why God wasn’t filling him in on the reasoning of why he had to endure his suffering and wondered why God was being to quiet.  Elihu piped in and stated that God was indeed speaking ….. he was pretty much always speaking but Job wasn’t prepared to listen.

Now, we know that Job had been listening and that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in a way we can understand.  He is not always going to tell us why we have to deal with things certain things or go through certain experiences, so Elihu wasn’t completely correct there.  He did say, however, that God does speak to us in many ways, we just have to not try to put words in his mouth. He uses things to get our attention and sometimes we don’t understand what he’s trying to get from us because of our pride…. we can’t make out what God wants because we are caught up in our suffering.

I find myself in that same situation so many more times than I like to admit… even though what I experience may not be as great of a suffering as what Job went through, I will often find myself so caught up in my own suffering or uncomfortableness that I can’t hear why God is allowing me to go through it.  When I finally let go of myself and allow God to be there, he may not show me exactly why I have to experience what I do, but he at least is there to be a compassionate, protecting, listening and mighty friend who comforts me and provides a peace that I can only get through him.  Job’s epiphany factor came a few chapters later when he realized that God’s ways are best…. when I remind myself of that I so often will be given the “voice of reason” and a brand new outlook.

I’m not sure what you may be dealing with today but should you be in a place where God seems quiet or distant, a great start may be not asking why but by asking for his help in taking the focus off of your suffering and allowing him to consume it.  I may provide a peace like you’ve never known.

Job 33

13 So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
14 For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Brother, Can You Spare a Lens?

(I have not written for such a long time.  Not because I didn’t have something to write about…. there have been so many great things going on.  For a while I was writing once a week on our church forum (www.eastland.org) and I have been dabbling in a couple of book writings, as well as, writing a script for an upcoming project…. so I have been writing, but not much sharing.  So, I hope that I can get back into some type of routine again…. at least this is a shot at it. )

I wear glasses… If you know me then you probably know that I don’t wear them often… I do see much better with them on, but because of that little annoying piece that fits across my nose and those other annoying pieces that go behind my ears,  I can only wear them for a short period of time.  Without them I can function very well, so they tend to get stashed away often… as they have been for almost a year.  However, during the past few weeks… maybe because of age, maybe because of tired eyes…. I was reminded how much I need the less blurry view of life.   Now, I probably would have gotten them out again but when I went to get them out last time a lens was missing, so they ended up staying in the junk drawer. Unless I wanted to walk around with one eye closed, then the one lens would do me no good ( I know, because I tried it) so I thought it to be pointless.

The other day, however, I decided to do the unexpected… clean out the “company’s coming” cabinet.  The “company’s coming” cabinet is the cabinet that has very useful hiding spaces for last minute toss-ins just before I open the door to my home.  Now, what inspired me to clean it out?  I’m not exactly sure but regardless of the reason, I began working through the camera instruction booklets, SD cards, marbles, pens, rubberbands, coins, and then something landed in my hand that was so amazing that it almost seemed to twinkle…. it was the lens to my glasses.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  I would finally be able to see details again…. then it hit me… In one of my “trying not to be a hoarder” impulsive moments,  I, long ago, when the lens was no where to be found, threw my favorite glasses in the trash.  Sure, I had found the lens but it was pointless… the glasses were long gone.  So along with some inked out pens and old rubberbands, the lens was sent to the bottom of the trash bag.

The following day I was getting some scissors from my “no place else to put it” drawer and as I reached to grab them I saw  something sticking out between two drawer dividers… could it be?  Yes, it was my favorite eyeglass frames!  But, in my excited time of finding my faves, I remembered that I had thrown away the lens.  It wasn’t too late though, the trash had not been taken away yet, but was it actually worth digging through trash to recapture the lens?  Of course,  I could pop that baby back in the frames and voila…no new glasses… I’d have my old ones for my tired, blurry eyes and look stylish as well.   So the digging began…. I was pretty sure that I knew which bag it was hiding in, so my husband and I began to dig… We searched the bag but nothing… except, there was one other bag that was inside the larger bag… we began digging through it…. There, at the bottom of the little bag, hidden underneath a few broken pens and some dryer lint, was the precious lens.  This was the key to clearer vision.  We retrashed the trash and I eagerly grabbed my glasses and went to the table to begin the lens popping-in procedure.  I put the lens on the frame and popped  the lens completely through the frames and onto the table… there was absolutely no tension… there was no tension because the lens was too small… the lens was too small because it was not my lens.   All of that for nothing…Maybe had I looked for the frames before throwing away the lens, maybe had I looked through the lens before I decided it had to be from my glasses… had I done either of those two things I would have saved a lot of time and would have also not ended up at the same place where I started.

So often we spend life just like that…Walking around with blurred vision looking for something that will make things clearer.  We search and find a piece here and a piece there and think we have a total solution … only to discover that even when they are placed together we still have blurred vision… it wasn’t the right thing.

Maybe our blurred vision isn’t actually lenses and frames but instead a need for something to fill a void.  We end up constantly searching for something of importance … or something to make our lives important… or just something to make ourselves happy. … Our vision is distorted because we hope to “see” clearer by a new career, a new relationship, a new family, a new car, new “stuff”, a new whatever….. we keep searching for it and maybe, like the discovery of my lens,  we get a twinkling “hallelujah” moment or two … thinking we’ve found the answer…..only to realize that it wasn’t the true answer and then we still feel the same way we felt before…. Correcting my blurred vision could have been an easy fix… another examination, a new prescription… even used the same old frame if I had chosen to do so…but instead I chose to keep searching

In Jeremiah 29: 11-14, Jeremiah has written a letter to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon.  He more or less told them that God said that during this time of exile they were not to listen to those around them (prophets and diviners) because they will deceive… the Lord knows you, knows your situation and has a plan to prosper you…. let Him be who you find peace in…

It doesn’t matter how hard we’ve looked, who we’ve listened to, what we have pieced together on our own, how long we have “worn” the pieced together “glasses”, or if we have been completely broken or stubborn…..God is always ready to show you his way of giving you a clear vision….He says you’ll find it if you seek it with all of your heart.

It is really that simple.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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